Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hindsight and Reflection

I've been home now for two and a half weeks. Its hard to be back. I don't really know how to describe my emotional state at this point - I've never been in this place before. Throughout my life, I have always been in touch with how I feel. Typically, when I'm upset or frustrated or simply in a bad mood, I am able to identify why I am feeling that way. Now, I'm lost. I departed thinking I would come back with even a greater sense of self, yet nothing can be further from the truth.

Tanzania is constantly on my mind. Irene, the child who I came to think of as something similar to my daughter, is always in my thoughts. I miss the other volunteers every day. In many ways, I have not even began to deal with the seperation from the things listed above. With the exception of one breakdown, I have not cried. What I continue to feel is numbness. I find it hard to be happy, yet feeling sad is also a struggle. As a former teacher said, I look "emotionally heavy". I become frustrated easily. I have bad days, where I am in a bad mood for no particular reason at all, other than that I am home.

Right now, I'm struggling to find a balance between two people: the person I was before I left (the one that my friends still expect me to be), and the person who feels like I do now. I believe the healthiest solution lies somewhere in the middle of those two, as I intend to take as much away from this experience as possible, yet I would like to return, at least in part, to the unconditional happiness I felt before.

Right now, I need people to understand. I need people to realize that I might need some time to get over what I left behind. I need people to know that going out and drinking my face off isn't incredibly appealing right now. I need people to understand that if I haven't spent the last two weeks dedicating my life to finding out when we can hang out, it's not because I dont want to be friends, or because I'm an asshole. It's because right now, I need some time. I need to sort out who I am and what I'm feeling before I can do the full blown social thing again.

People ask me what bothers me most about being here. It is not the commercialism, as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, the first time I saw a kid in a grocery store throwing a fit because his mother wouldn't by him a chocolate bar I felt I was going to be sick. But, I miss more than anything how selfless the people of Tanzania were, my housemates included. Everyone was there for you, even if they were a complete stranger. Here, everyone looks out for themselves. Socially, Tanzania is far more advanced than we are. People are nice there. They may be missing some things we would classify as living essentials, but they're happier. It's the happiest place I have ever been, and because I am no longer in that place, I have some soul searching to do. Bear with me.